for people who love the littlest dairy goats
Thanks for joining the group! Your situation is very specific, so it wouldn't be answered in any book.
First of all, your doe may have never gotten an infection. The only does we've ever had that got infections were those where we had our arm in them up to our elbow or for extended lengths of time -- like trying to rearrange kids for half an hour. Just reaching in to move a leg is not a big deal, assuming you washed your hands and weren't touching straw and the goat's head and then sticking your hand back inside. I generally wear gloves and squirt iodine on the glove, but that's it. I change gloves whenever I touch something outside of the goat. I have never put anything into a doe's uterus afterwards or done any flushing, and they've been fine.
I tend to agree with your vet that your doe does not have an infection. White or clear discharge is normal. I do mention in Raising Goats that whether it's white or clear can give a hint about how long they've been in heat and how much you need to hurry to get them with a buck.
I wouldn't say your doe "missed" heats. Most goats do not come into heat during the spring and summer. I know a lot of sources say NDs breed year-round, but that trait is being bred out of them the longer they live in North America.
I think you're worrying about a lot of things that are not a problem, especially if this is your first goat. I know I was calling the vet and my mentor a LOT the first couple of years. The vet here was like yours -- ALWAYS suggested antibiotics EVERY time I called! After three times, I quit calling him because I knew what he was going to say, and I was not going to give my goat antibiotics if there was not a clear need. My mentor would always say that the goat sounded normal -- and she was right. I gotta say it's been 12 or 13 years since I've stuck my nose under a goat's tail to sniff her discharge.
If a goat has an infection, they're usually sick. They're off feed. They have a fever. It's obvious. Subclinical infections are not that common. You might be able to tell through blood work, if your goat has something subclinical going on, but I don't know of anyone who recommends doing that sort of thing routinely with a goat that doesn't have any symptoms.
Hope this helps!
We've only had one uterine infection that I recall, and it was as I said -- my daughter had her arm in the doe up to her elbow, and it took a long time to get things sorted out. The doe was off feed and had a raging fever in a day or two. She was quite obviously sick.
There was another birth where I had my hand in the doe for more than an hour trying to reposition the first kid. I watched her like a hawk for days, and she seemed to be fine. She didn't get an infection, but a month after the kids were born, her uterus filled up with fluid that caused it to block her bladder so that she couldn't pee. They tested the fluid, and it was not infected, which amazed me. Unfortunately her cervix was sealed tight, and there was nothing they could do to get it to drain, which is where I learned a lot about cervixes and pitocin and all that stuff. Since the only option was a complete hysterectomy, which is very expensive in goats because it's rarely done and dangerous ($1000+), we wound up having them put her down.
What you describe about the placenta is totally normal. It normally takes 2-3 hours to completely release. Retained placentas are a sign of selenium deficiency, but we're talking about at least 12 hours. There was a recent post on here where I mentioned "retained" placentas. Ruminants take a long time. Cows can apparently take weeks sometimes, and the vets at U of I are totally chill about it. Just watch for infection. I've had a couple of does that took more than a day, and both were fine. I had a ewe take a week, and she was fine, although it was in the early years, so I was giving her penicillin.
If she doesn't have hair around her eyes, that's copper deficiency. It's pretty obviously odd and just as simple as it sounds.
Since I didn't see your doe in labor, it's hard to second guess everything. However, if you had your hand in her up to your wrist, and the kids were perfectly positioned, I'm thinking that she was fine and just needed more time. I would not have expected her to be actively pushing if the kids were that high still. Does do NOT push hard until the kid is putting serious pressure on the exit. That's one reason I don't break the amniotic sac. They'll be pushing like crazy if there's a bubble because they feel that pressure. I learned early on that if you break that bubble, they stop pushing hard.
I have one line of does -- it's multiple lines now that all go back about five generations to Sherri, who will be 15 this winter -- and they don't get very dramatic at all until the head is coming out. We missed so many of their births before we got a video camera because we wouldn't hear anything over the baby monitor until the head was coming out, so by the time we got to the barn, there was a baby sitting in a puddle of amniotic fluid, which is kind of scary when it's below zero out there.
The only does that I've ever had who gave up and stopped pushing were the two that I had to drive two hours to the hospital for a c-section, and I think a big part of the reason they quit pushing is because I put them in my car, so that freaked them out.
If your doe seemed to be having a long first stage of labor with wimpy contractions, that could be calcium deficiency. I keep calcium on hand, and if a doe seems to be in early labor for more than a few hours, I give her a calcium drench. You are counting on the uterus contractions to get the kid down to the exit so that the doe feels enough pressure to start actively pushing.
Alfalfa is high in calcium, which is one reason to start feeding it the last few weeks of pregnancy. Dr. Solaiman, the editor of Goat Science and Production, recommends at least 50% alfalfa hay for the last six weeks of pregnancy.
About wheat germ oil -- it has no selenium, but it is high in vitamin E.
If you haven't taken my class on copper deficiency yet, you can sign up here -- https://thriftyhomesteader.teachable.com/p/copper-deficiency
I think one reason people freak out about placentas so much is that human placentas come out fairly quickly, and a lot of human doctors are very impatient, so people just assume goat placentas should also come out fast. The other thing that doesn't translate from humans to goats is meconium passing before birth. I've had quite a few kids born with a nasty poop-filled sac, and they were all fine. Things vary a lot from species to species.
I could go on all day talking about goats, but this is probably way more than you ever wanted to know! LOL
I hate concrete suggestions like do a vaginal check after 30 minutes of pushing. There's pushing and then there's PUSHING! I don't get too excited about wimpy pushing. You said your doe wasn't pushing, and the kids were high, so once her uterus pushed the kids lower in the pelvis, she would have started pushing seriously. The first 3-4 years we had goats, there were so many does that I thought were in labor -- sometimes days before they actually kidded, so no way were they actually in labor. Here's a Facebook Live I did this past spring. This doe went an hour between the first and second kid, but she wasn't pushing very hard, so I knew the kid was still high in the pelvis and wasn't too worried. (I'm always a little worried but am better at sitting on my hands now than I used to be.) One of the very long videos is very boring because she doesn't actually have the kid, and I finally decided to turn off the video because I was afraid my battery would die before she was done.
Hopefully it will do the whole playlist that I put together of the videos for the whole birth.
It is puzzling why the other doe wanted to eat a hay that she normally doesn't want to eat. I'm getting ready to head to the Mother Earth News Fair in Kansas tomorrow, so I don't have time to look that up right now.
I've been at a conference this weekend with limited Internet access, but ultimately, unless I had a crystal ball, I couldn't answer any of your questions with any degree of accuracy. I'm curious what you mean about taking in a swab to the vet. That is usually something a vet would do, so you'd take the goat in. You don't just use a cotton swab from your medicine cabinet at home. You could be picking up all sorts of microscopic bugs of who know whats.
Perception varies so much from one person to another. When I was new to goats, I thought goats were pushing in labor when they were still two days away from kidding, and I've had people on this forum have that same perception. If your goat is acting pretty normal most of the time, she's probably fine, and you're misreading cues. Goats lay on their side, and they chew their cud. It's just impossible to know what's happening without being there.
Don't jump to any conclusions. And I would definitely not use lutalyse. If she is pregnant, that would cause her to abort.